Thursday, March 24, 2005

POLITICS: Death before dying

If anything, the sordid Terri Schiavo mess illustrates how effective the radical conservative takeover of America has become lately, and how hideously ugly it is when politics intertwine with deeply personal matters of life and death. The Republicans in Congress seem far more concerned with smut on TV, steroids in baseball and interfering with states' rights than in doing anything substantive for the nation's welfare. Moderates have been marginalized as Tom DeLay does his merry little dance for the cameras.

I am a firm believer that we all should have the right to die if we choose. I live in the only state to approve doctor-assisted suicide, and I simply don't think the federal government has any role in telling you or I we can't make those decisions for ourselves. Of course, the tricky part of the Schiavo case is she's brain-damaged, and the two poles of her family have been battling it out for years over what her fate will be. It's a wretchedly ugly mess, which has no possibility of a "happy ending" for anyone. I pity both the husband and the parents, who have been swept up in a cable news-powered, politician-hijacked whirlwind beyond their control.

But when right-leaning bloggers like Andrew Sullivan are pointing out the incredible hypocrisy behind the politics of it all, there's something rotten in D.C. Sullivan manages to distill this issue nicely in a few sentences:
"So it is now the federal government's role to micro-manage baseball and to prevent a single Florida woman who is trapped in a living hell from dying with dignity. We're getting to the point when conservatism has become a political philosophy that believes that government -- at the most distant level -- has the right to intervene in almost anything to achieve the right solution. Today's conservatism is becoming yesterday's liberalism."

It's sad to see the moderate wing and fiscal conservative elements of the Republican party be stomped into the dirt as their party is kidnapped. States' rights, once a principle of conservatism? Thrown out the window if the federal govt. doesn't like what the states are doing, as witnessed by their repeated assaults on Oregon's suicide law. I don't want to be told how to live - or end - my life by the likes of John Ashcroft or Tom DeLay (who, coincidentally, is under investigation for numerous improprieties -- gee, do you think inserting himself so prominently into the Schiavo business is his way of diverting attention from his own political and legal problems?). Fortunately, some Republicans are voicing dissent -- but the question is, do they have the spine to truly take on the extremists who have taken over their party? Is it too late?

The whole Schiavo business may end soon, or it may drag on for years to come. She can't tell us what she wants (and the ultimate moral of the story might be, for god's sake get a living will made). "Death with dignity," we call it here in Oregon. Man, there's not much of either in this affair right now.

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